Page 179 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

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B
lum en f ield
— B
ooks
on
J
ew ish
E
ducation
159
of subjects treated by their author. Reference w ill therefore be
confined to the areas covered by him and the procedures he fol-
lowed in dealing w ith his vast materials.
T he first volume of
T o ld o t ha -H inukh be-YIsrael,
covering Jew-
ish education in Europe from 1789 to 1914, opens w ith a brief
introduction touching upon Jewish education preceding the
French Revolution, and is followed by a fairly detailed descrip-
tion of ideas and practices of Jewish education in France, Ger-
many, Austria, Italy, Holland, Scandinavia, Roumania, Hungary,
Russia and Poland. As the author points out, emancipation,
social and political revolutions and movements like Haskalah,
Hasidism, Zionism and Socialism made an impact on all Jewish
communities, but its tempo and nature varied greatly from coun-
try to country, hence Scharfstein’s geographic rather than epochal
approach. Wherever possible the author quotes reports, descrip-
tions and evaluations of participants and witnesses of Jewish
education in the countries under consideration, but this does not
preclude him from commenting upon events and personalities
in terms o f historic perspective.
The second volume continues with the treatment of Russia
and Poland in the 20th century, and adds the Baltic countries,
Latin America and, to a lesser extent, countries of Central Eu-
rope and Australia. T h e third volume reflects the tragic changes
following the destruction of European Jewry, when the center
of Jewish education was transferred to the English-speaking
countries—the Un ited States, Canada, England, South Africa,
Australia and New Zealand. The fourth and fifth volumes are
devoted to education in Israel from the beginning o f the modern
Y ishuv
up to the rise of the Jewish State, and to the more recent
developments in Islamic and European countries from the forties
up to the present.
W ith the exception of the State of Israel, Dr. Scharfstein holds
out little hope for the future of Jewish education. Even in lands
of freedom, w ith all the rights, opportunities and resources to
provide adequate Jewish schooling, parents seem to concentrate
on the secular education of their children at the expense of an
effective Jewish education. The unrestrained freedom of Jewish
belief and practice enjoyed by the majority of Jews in the Dias-
pora, has brought about disorganization in Jewish religious and
communal life bordering on anarchy. Such a predicament holds
little promise for planned, effective effort for Jewish education
even on the part of those committed to the continuity of Jewish
tradition and culture. Only the future w ill tell whether Israel
and Hebrew reborn will play the significant role in a meaning-
ful Jewish survival envisioned by Ahad H a’am and other pro-
tagonists o f Israel as the cultural center for world Jewry.